Under the gun: WSOP, Southern Style

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It’s that time of year again.

Hope springs eternal for thousands of poker players who will converge upon Sin City in search of immortality and wealth. From now until the middle of July, the Rio in Las Vegas is the center of the rounder universe as the World Series of Poker launches its 41st installment.

This year Ante Up is even more excited than in years past because we might actually have a player bring home the hardware. The past two years have been a teaser as we had a couple of Florida residents — one former (Chino Rheem, 2008) one current (Kevin Schaffel, 2009) — in the November Nine. Both players fell short, obviously, but we are rejuvenated this year as our odds have increased tremendously with our southern expansion. We have 12 states that can give us a world champion. Not since Tennessee’s Chris Moneymaker in 2003 has the Southeastern United States enjoyed having a WSOP Main Event winner among us. (Yes, Greg Raymer lives in North Carolina now, but when he won in 2005 he had a Connecticut residence).

We’re confident this is our year to finally put a homegrown talent on our cover as they grin ear to ear with a sparkling new gold bracelet weighing down their wrist and a mountain of cash hiding most of their body from the camera lens. 

But that doesn’t mean we’re putting any pressure on you, Hoyt. No worries, Vanessa, if you don’t take it down. Capt. Tom? No sweat, you won’t be busted down to lieutenant; it’s only a tournament. Just know we’re pulling for all of you, and so is the rest of our little corner of the country. 

We’re honored reigning WSOP champ Joe Cada found some time to discuss with us his past year as the ambassador to poker and his outlook on this year’s Series.

Also in this issue, the winner of the first Florida Million says he laughed when someone broached the idea of an 18-player chop while he was chipleader in the historic event. We also attended the Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi, Miss., and have a special report on its proceedings. While we were there we decided to resurrect our Road Trip series and review the poker rooms of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We met some great personalities and found a lot of character in these venues. And be sure to stay glued to Ante Up in coming months as we’ll continue our Road Trip features with the remaining poker rooms in Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virginia and the rest of The South.

We’ll see you at the tables.

Christopher Cosenza and Scott Long